I’ve stayed a few times recently at the W Austin, booked on points before the recent shift in Starwood reward categories. The property went from category 5 (12,000 points most nights) to 6 (20,000 points most nights), and I figured it was worth getting in under the wire.
But the W is in my favorite location — right smack downtown, but not by all the 6th street bars (so quieter) and with a view of the river.
It’s across the street in one direction from Lamberts Downtown Barbecue and a block in another direction from a great wine bar (Cru). There’s a Starbucks in the building (entrance around the corner), and across the street is one of the best minimarts I’ve ever seen.
It’s a good hotel, that draws some pretty spendy room rates — from $350 to well over $400 much of the time. It’s a reasonable value at category 5, but hard to justify at category 6.
All in all the staff is friendly and tries hard, although housekeeping doesn’t seem to try very hard. (Cleaning never seems very thorough, toileteries, tissues, and the like frequently go un-replaced.)
Housekeeping also just puts room service trays outside of doors when they clean, and those trays are frequently left there for hours at a time (a pet peeve of mine).
They can get overwhelmed, though, by guests. There are often swarms at the valet stand. The lobby is too small for the number of people about at times. And they try to control crowds by the pool by demanding guests have wrist-bands (your room key isn’t enough to get you in).
Now, this W only opened in 2010 but design-wise reminds me of one from much earlier in the decade. The W Hong Kong‘s elevator mats offered an electronic changing good morning, good afternoon, and good evening when I was there in 2009. Here they still physically change up the mats in front of the elevators.
The rooms are serviceable. There’s always a complimentary bottle of water, and two bottles that come with a charge (although turn-down service will bring more complimentary bottled waters, and chocolate).
As merely a Gold I’ve consistently gotten river views. I’m vexed by the windows, though — there are basically cut-out windows that are more like port holes when they should be floor-to-ceiling glass to capitalize on the view. And for some reason they have drapes that only open hallway across the window, you’re losing half of your view even with everything open as far as it goes.
A view of the river means, unfortunately, looking down over the rooftop (and all of the associated mechanical) of the building in front of the W.
It also means looking down on the W’s happening pool scene.
The bathroom is large and stylish, with a separate toilet room.
There’s a desk and chair, plenty of outlets and also cords in the room for use.
I also don’t understand though the placement of the separation between room and corridor, it creates a large amount of dead space.
After ordering in-room dining one evening, I got a call back. Ironically he said he was calling from the Whatever/Whenever line. What I wanted was a piece of chocolate cake, and he was calling to tell me I could not have whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. (They ran out. But they did send up a couple of candy bars as an apology.) Another request that failed was a yoga mat.
I’ve never had much luck with “Whatever/Whenever” like when the W San Diego couldn’t send up coffee to my room.
My only real complaint is that other guests can be loud, it’s a party scene too and from the pool, and the place just gets too crowded by non-guests that staying here is anything but an oasis. But everyone at the hotel is friendly and the location is fantastic, and I’m not sure where else I’d want to stay more without shelling out far more (a stance I’ll have to re-evaluate once my string of speculative reservations made before the category shift is used up).
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